That MFA diploma certainly doesn't mean that I know anything about writing a novel. Oh, I've read them, sure. So many, in fact, that all I have learned is that anything goes. We have great expectations for the short story, but what do we want out of novels? Or, I should ask, what will we accept from a novel? Seems to me that we will accept any format, any premise, and any ending, however implausible, as long as overall the book is well executed.
How, then, can I possibly sit down to start such a thing. Not just sit down to write, but simply start. Do I have any idea what I'm doing? How much do I have to know before I start? Should I have the whole thing sketched out, or is it okay to just go on an idea? Given all these questions, do I really want to commit myself to such a thing?
I am a busy man. A full time job and a one year old child. Not as busy I have been, but how much time do I have to devote to writing a novel? Can I really commit to these characters, this story? Do I really want to work on a single project for the next year or more? It takes me months to finish a single twenty page story; at that pace this could take me decades.